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Early Childhood Australia WebWatch

Making news this fortnight …

Communities endure catastrophic fires across several states causing school closures and decision-making dilemmas for early childhood services; the Productivity Commission will take evidence on early childhood from ECA on Friday 15 November; new government funding will support some early childhood education services affected by the drought; ‘Families as First Teachers’ launches with a Kriol performance of The Very Cranky Bear; new research explores how habits developed early can shape lifelong behaviours, while another study explores perceptions of children’s activity levels and outdoor playtime; some families struggle to find an early childhood service that meets their needs; and the Federal Government commences consultation on a national obesity strategy. It’s National Recycling Week from 11–17 November, watch the Narragunnawali Awards on 14 November and Universal Children’s Day is coming up; plus learn about the international Playwork movement and have your say in their census.

Find the latest in state and territory news and jump down to read what ECA teams have been doing.


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Fire: are you ready?
As communities and state governments deal with catastrophic fires and hundreds of schools close in NSW and Queensland, how do early childhood services respond? Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA) provided ECA with ‘Think Ahead’ tips to assist with decisions. Find early warning information here and jump to state and territory news for emergency information near you.


Commission hearings
The Productivity Commission’s Draft recommendations include key ECA recommendations such as funding educators for training and support to identify young children’s mental health issues, and ensuring early childhood university curricula cover young children’s mental health and wellbeing. ECA gives evidence to the Commission this Friday 15 November. Find our submission here or become an ECA Member to receive updates and alerts.

drought relief

Drought relief: early childhood services
Early childhood services with drought-affected farming families who are unable to pay fees, are set to receive support from the Federal Government through $5 million from the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF). The Federal Government has announced the new funding through the CCCF special circumstances grant. Read more here.

literacy with families

Literacy with families
As part of the launch of ‘Families as First Teachers’—a partnership between the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Northern Territory government—young children enjoyed a parent-performed rendition of The Very Cranky Bear translated into Kriol, and were invited to choose a book to take home. Read more here.

Early start on habits

Early start on habits
A collaborative study from Early Start (University of Wollongong), NSW Health and the University of Newcastle is exploring how habits developed early shape lifelong behaviours. Early Start’s Dr Megan Hammersley says it is better ‘to work on children’s eating patterns, physical activity, screen time and sleep habits together’, rather than tackle them separately, for long-term outcomes. Learn more here.

Digital tech isn't the enemy of play

Digital tech isn’t the enemy of play
A University of New South Wales study shows some Australians believe smartphones and social media have reduced children’s physical activity levels and outdoor playtime. But ECA CEO Sam Page says digital technology does not need to be the enemy of play and can be used to promote activity, creativity and engagement with others. See ECA’s Statement here. Read the interview here.

A service that fits

A service that fits
More than 40 per cent of families with young children struggle to find good early childhood education and care, according to the ABC’s Australia Talks study. ECA’s CEO, Samantha Page, helps unpack the issues on Life Matters. Listen here.

Have your say

Have your say
The Federal Government has commenced consultation on a national obesity strategy, and you can be part of it until Sunday 15 December. There are two surveys and multiple community forums available, including community discussions held across the country, and a national webinar. Click here to find out more.


Key dates

Planet Ark is busting the myths of recycling for National Recycling Week, 11 November—17 November. Click here for details and tune in for Narragunnawali Awards 2019 winners via Facebook livestream on Thursday 14 November. Celebrate UN anniversaries on the Rights of the Child on 20 November, which marks Universal Children’s Day—the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (November 1959) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (November 1989). Find more here.

Playwork Census

The Playwork concept began in adventure playgrounds, created last century to provide children’s spaces within urban environments. The International Playwork Census is a global research project by Dr Pete King (Swansea University) and Dr Shelley Newstead (Common Threads). Find out more and take the short 15-minute survey here.

In state and territory news ...

As several states respond to unprecedented bushfires, ABC Emergency provides a national list of emergency contacts and alerts for each state and territory. And for school closures find Queensland information here and NSW closures here.

In other state and territory news:
The Baldjamaar Foundation in Western Australia has received Federal funding to deliver a series of programs to support Indigenous youth across the Great Southern region. Children living in the most remote parts of the Northern Territory will receive one book every month for the next year via mail or flying mail; and findings from the Productivity Commission show Federal and Northern Territory government annual spending on child protection is not achieving real change.

KindyLinQ, a $2.2 million pilot program announced by the state Minister for Education, Grace Greace, will provide a free learning program for three-year-old children in 40 Queensland state schools in 2020.

The Victorian Government has committed almost $5 billion over 10 years so that three-year-old children across the state can access a funded kindergarten program. The program opens up opportunities for early childhood educators and teachers in several regional areas.  In Gippsland children will also benefit from new and upgraded kindergarten facilities. Early childhood education services in 32 Victorian local government areas eligible for the government’s 2020 School Readiness Funding program have begun planning to access the funds aimed at supporting children to maximise learning in the transition from early years to school settings. See more from Early Childhood Australia.

Students from K–2 in NSW private schools increased literacy and numeracy skills within a year from the government-funded ‘Phase 2 Action Plan’. The program has helped 626 educators teach essential foundational skills. And in Tasmania, the new ‘Books for Babies’ project provides each baby born in the state from 1 January 2020 with a high-quality children’s book, with the aim of lifting language, literacy and numeracy.

Supporting the wellbeing of parents and carers

Early Childhood Australia Learning Hub

It’s time to talk!
Time is running out to tell us your thoughts about ECA’s quarterly print newsletter, Voice. Go in the draw to win one of three 12-month subscriptions to ECA’s Research in Practice Series or the Everyday Learning Series. We value your voice and would like to know what we are getting right and where we can improve! Find the survey here.

ECA Spoke

Educator face
Do you have the face for early childhood teaching? Karen Hope shares how adults’ facial expressions impact children’s learning and development. Find a short blog on thinking ahead during fire emergencies, and Claire Warden delves into whether there is a set sequence in part two of her three-blog series on the Floorbook Approach.

ECA Publications

Documentation and assessment
Documenting and assessing children’s learning is complex, but it doesn’t have to be stressful—ECA provides professional learning on documenting and assessing, the planning cycle and critical reflection for one low fee. Explore the package here. Subscribe to Spend a Minute to get bite-sized newsletters on key pedagogical topics.


Submit and book now!
If you’re thinking about submitting an application to present at the 2020 ECA National Conference, now is the time! You have until 12 December 2019 to submit yours. And don’t forget to book your ticket for the 2020 AJEC Research Symposium, being held on 13–14 February 2020 in Sydney.

Be You Early Childhood

Join us on Wednesday 27 November for our latest In Focus webinar, ‘Are you ready? Maintaining a mentally healthy community when change is all around’. Listen to a panel discussion with Be You Consultants on practical strategies for creating safe and responsive learning environments when change occurs in early learning services. Book your spot.

ECA Shop

2020 Early Years Planner
Give a gift they'll use all year—the 2020 Early Years Daily Planner is the perfect gift for this holiday season, and a great way to help your team get ahead in the new year. Plan your days, weeks and months in this full colour layout which includes ample writing space for recording reflections. Shop here.

To view upcoming early childhood events and professional development opportunities, click here to visit the ECA events page.


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ECA WebWatch—Issue 320, November 2019.